Meet Our Candidates: Betts Putnam-Hidalgo for Tucson Unified School Board

The Arizona general election will be held on November 8, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the election, you must register to vote by October 10 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

betts-putnam-hidalgo-scaledBetts Putnam-Hidalgo, a lifelong social activist and a fixture at Tucson Unified School District Governing Board meetings, is running for the board for the third time. The at-large position is nonpartisan.

The retired landscaper studied at the University of Arizona and at New Mexico University. Her family, which includes several enormous dogs, lives in a historic downtown Tucson neighborhood.

In its 2014 endorsement of her, the Arizona Daily Star said that the system badly needed new leadership, and that Putnam-Hidalgo “best” understood “the complex issues facing TUSD. The board must make tough decisions to focus a district that has lost about 13,000 students in the last 12 years.” The paper noted that despite her loss two years earlier, Putnam-Hidalgo

still kept up her regular attendance at board meetings. She’s also been actively involved in school site councils, served as a community representative and taught English as a second language to parents.

She speaks with enthusiasm of participating in parent leadership training through Voices for Education as a starting point for her advocacy. Her positions include supporting an internal auditor, reducing kindergarten through third-grade class sizes to 18 and making schools a neighborhood hub for social services as well as education.

A board adversary on one issue may be an ally on the next, she says, indicating she will not vote with a bloc on the board [and] … she’d ensure the authority line clearly reflects that “the superintendent works for the board.”

These same points are in her platform today. In addition to increased honesty and transparency in the district, she is calling for an end to abusively high administrative costs and low classroom funding. She will not support enormous compensation packages for the superintendent or other administrators while TUSD teachers and staff are among the lowest paid across surrounding districts. She notes that with the current pay structure, “the further one is from the students, the more compensation one receives. This is backwards and dangerous.”


“When it comes to avoiding teen pregnancy and having healthy relationships, ignorance is dangerous.”


The native New Yorker came to Arizona in the 1970s and came to her interest in TUSD through her son, now 16. She was 45 when he was born, already stepmother to two boys.

“When we lived in New Mexico, before my own son was born, the military recruiters started to call for my stepsons. I could not get them to stop. That was when I knew there was activism to be done in the schools,” Putnam-Hidalgo told us in an August 26, 2016, phone interview, during which she answered the following questions.

TUSD recently voted to include comprehensive sexuality education in its classrooms. What would you like this new curriculum to look like?

I’m really excited about it being a whole lot more than just name-the-body-parts. From what I understood from a number of high school students, they want [information about] how emotions and sexual contact intersect … I had that at a private school in the eighth grade: how sexual activity was nothing to be ashamed of and should be fun. We made fun of the teacher at the time but I now realize she was a revolutionary! Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Kristel Foster for Tucson Unified School Board

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

kristel fosterKristel Ann Foster is a Spanish-speaking educator first elected to the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board in 2012. She’s seeking a second term. A language-acquisition specialist with degrees from Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona, she’s spent her entire career teaching and developing curricula — in Sunnyside Unified School District; at the University of Arizona, as a clinical assistant professor; in the Aurora, Colorado, public schools; and at the Discovery School in Cuernavaca, Mexico.


“Knowledge empowers individuals to better their lives.”


Foster has said that she’s proud of her work with Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and fellow Board members Cam Juarez and Adelita Grijalva to craft a Five Year Strategic Plan that offers “continuity, stability, and articulated vision [that] was missing for a long time in TUSD.’’

“I am an educator who understands how critical the political process and actions by elected officials are to the effectiveness and success of our public schools,’’ Foster writes on her Facebook page. “I am also aware of the serious attacks that public programs are under. My passion for quality public education and dedication to the students and teachers in our community inspire my service on the Tucson Unified School District’s Governing Board.’’

Foster responded by email on July 21, 2016, to questions Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona posed.

Tell us a little about your background and why it’s important to you to be involved with education in your community.

I am an educator with 25 years of teaching experience. I’ve directly experienced policy decisions in the classroom and know how these affect teaching and learning. I’m honored to bring this perspective to the discussions we have on the TUSD Board as we move our school district forward. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Bradley for State Senator, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

david bradleyFrom 2003 to 2011, Dave Bradley represented what was then Tucson’s Legislative District 28 in the Arizona House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona had the opportunity to speak with him during his campaigns for Arizona State Senate in both 2012 and 2014. During this time, Sen. Bradley has been a tireless advocate for health care and education access and equity.

He was kind enough to take the time for this interview with us on July 12, 2016.


“The Legislature is the last place that medical practices should be dictated.”


Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

I like to say that my dreams still outnumber my memories, and as such still believe that Arizona can rise from its historical morass of being so backward in its approach to commonsense issues of equality and women’s rights. The Legislature is always the arena where incremental progress is celebrated disproportionately. When we do commonsense things like pass Medicaid expansion or KidsCare, we are reinvigorated. There is a long way to go, but I choose to believe that time will be on our side. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Joel Feinman for Pima County Attorney

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Joel-Feinman scaledAfter graduating from law school at the University of Arizona, Joel Feinman spent almost a decade as a criminal trial lawyer for the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. Last September, he decided to leave that role and devote his time to running as a Democratic candidate for the office of Pima County Attorney, where he believes he could play a bigger role in advancing justice. Since September, Feinman’s campaign messaging has shown the depth and breadth of what justice means to him, from providing legal assistance to refugees to ensuring that at-risk communities aren’t further distressed by misguided policies — and enforcement — that fragment families, criminalize people with mental illnesses, and leave high unemployment in their wake.


“People should be empowered to make their own choices and control their own bodies and determine their own futures.”


One of the strongest examples of Feinman’s commitment to justice has been the time and energy he has put into supporting reproductive justice. Feinman, who describes himself as a lifelong supporter of Planned Parenthood, started volunteering for the organization when he was 12 years old. He has continued to give his time to the organization and served for four years as Chair of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s Board of Directors.

Earlier this month, Feinman received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and on July 12, he generously took the time for a telephone interview to answer our questions about his candidacy.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I was born in Tucson and was raised in Phoenix. I went to Northwestern University for undergrad and went back to Tucson for law school. I graduated from the University of Arizona law school in 2007 and went to work at the Pima County Public Defender’s Office as a defense attorney, defending poor people accused of felony offenses. I did that for eight years until I left my job in September of 2015 to run full-time for County Attorney. I’ve also been a volunteer, a donor, and a supporter and a board member of Planned Parenthood in one combination or another since I was about 12 years old. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Barbara LaWall for Pima County Attorney

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Barbara LaWallIncumbent Barbara LaWall is running for reelection to continue serving as Pima County Attorney — a position she has held for five terms since first being elected in 1996. She was the first woman to hold that office, and she has used her position to bring her vision for the Pima County Attorney’s Office to life. Earlier this year, in a television interview with Jim Nintzel, she said that when her predecessor retired, she ran to fill his seat so she could “engage the community and forge relationships with neighborhoods and schools and businesses.” This kind of community outreach could allow the prosecutor’s office to give children the resources they needed to make good life decisions, steering potential criminals down a more productive path. Just as preventive health care saves money and anguish down the road, so too do programs designed to prevent crime from flourishing.


“The primary element of human liberty is the freedom to control our own bodies, and a major aspect of that is the freedom to make our own medical decisions.”


Despite the improvements that have been implemented over the past two decades, Ms. LaWall says she’s not ready to retire. As she told Nintzel, “I am still very much engaged in this office. It is my calling and my passion … I have a few more ideas that I’d like to bring to the office, and I’m ready to keep on going.” In the below interview, she elaborates on some of the positive changes she has made as Pima County Attorney, as well as some of the ideas she plans to enact during her next term.

Her work as Pima County’s top prosecutor was recognized earlier this year, when the Arizona Women Lawyers Association presented her with the 2016 Sarah Herring Sorin Award — an award that was named in honor of Arizona’s first female attorney, and that was given to Ms. LaWall “in recognition of her long-time support and encouragement for the advancement of women in the legal profession.”

Ms. LaWall’s candidacy is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and on July 24, she kindly took the time to answer our questions about her record as Pima County attorney and her campaign for reelection.

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in Tucson. My grandparents on both sides were immigrants who came to this country to find the American dream. My parents were first generation Americans and the first in their families to graduate from high school. My dad was an auto parts salesman and my mom worked as a secretary on the airbase. My sister and I were the first generation to attend college. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Matt Kopec for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Matt KopecAt 27, Matt Kopec became the Arizona Legislature’s youngest member when the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed him to a vacated House seat in January 2016. Kopec, former Pima County Democratic Party treasurer and aide to Tucson Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, replaced Victoria Steele in Legislative District 9. If she wins her primary, Ms. Steele will face U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in November.

Kopec, a Tucson native, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


“Age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education … reduces unintended pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted infections.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona recommend LD 9 voters cast their ballots for both Rep. Kopec and fellow incumbent Rep. Randall Friese. Rep. Kopec generously took the time to answer our questions on July 6, 2016.

What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

With the recent Supreme Court case regarding abortion access in Texas, we need to bring Arizona in compliance with that ruling. Although I do understand that may ultimately require legal action [to] be brought. Every woman has the right to access abortion services, and we need to stand up to any law that erodes that.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Maritza Miranda Saenz for State Senator, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Maritza Miranda Saenz scaledMaritza Miranda Saenz is running for the Arizona Senate to represent Legislative District 27, which encompasses parts of Central Phoenix and the communities of Laveen, South Mountain, and Guadalupe. She is a candidate who comes from a family with experience in both law and grassroots politics. Her mother, Lucy Lopez-Goss, served indigent clients for the Maricopa County Office of the Legal Defender, and her father, the late Rep. Ben Miranda, served the area as a legislator, attorney, and activist. It is a tradition Miranda Saenz carried on while working alongside her father for 15 years. Her involvement in the community continued as she started a small business that mentors area youth. Miranda Saenz entered the race with an interest in supporting education and small businesses in Arizona, as well as protecting our voting rights and environment.


“I believe the ability to control one’s own body is an issue of justice and freedom.”


Since 2015, Miranda Saenz’s opponent, Catherine Miranda, has been the Democratic Senator for LD 27. Before that, Catherine served in the AZ House since 2011. During Catherine Miranda’s Senate bid in 2014, we gave her the spotlight on this blog for a very different reason. As we wrote then, “A lot of us might assume that a female Democrat will be a fierce advocate for reproductive rights, but that’s not always a safe assumption” — and, as we summarized then, Rep. Miranda has turned that assumption on its head time and again. In her five years in the Senate, Rep. Miranda has supported legislation to ban state funding for abortion providers, restrict the administration of medication abortions, and create other new barriers to reproductive health care. Rep. Miranda’s record earned her an “anti-choice” classification from NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona, as well as the endorsement of Arizona Right to Life.

Maritza Miranda Saenz thinks the voters of LD 27 need an alternative. On July 14, she generously took the time for an interview to tell us more about her candidacy and what’s at stake in the election.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a mom, small business owner, and lifelong Democrat born and raised in South Phoenix. My husband and I are raising our four kids in the district and are deeply invested in the future of our community. I was raised with a sense of obligation to fight for working class families. I strongly believe that women should be the only decision makers about their own health care needs. Continue reading